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Thanks – Giving and Gratitude

This is a special time and an obvious week of Gratitude and Thanksgiving.

Note: Every year I try to share a Thanksgiving message with our Tribe/Community. Some of this ‘recycled’ from previous years because of the timeless nature of these thoughts.

Three things to think about this Thanksgiving and Holiday Season:


    For the first half of my life (30+ years), my understanding of wealth was the same as all my friends, business associates and the general public. ‘WEALTH’ meant you had a lot of money.
    Then I found this definition and it allowed me to become one of the ‘WEALTHIEST’ people in the world.
    Here’s a simple test of your ‘WEALTH.’ Write down a list of all the things that you truly VALUE. Then, put a ‘COST’ (an actual dollar figure) next to everything on the list.
    Most of you will look at the list and realize that the things that you truly VALUE end up COSTING NOTHING!

    Bob and Melinda Blanchard, in their wonderful entrepreneurial book Live What You Love, have a great line: “It only matters if it BREATHES.”

    My own VALUE LIST is filled with simple things that are alive … family time, adventures with the grandkids, health, friends, business partners, etc. … and, some that are not … a great book, a good cup of coffee, nature, the sun, the ocean, the mountains, a boxing workout, yoga and a ride on the Harley.

    Here’s the pretty obvious point: ‘WEALTH’, no matter how you define it, is not about ‘money.’ Money is just ‘worthless wampum’ in the grand scheme of life.

    Clearly, we need to provide ourselves and family with food, shelter, clothing, etc. But if the accumulation of money, a higher salary or how much you can put in your bank or your portfolio is your measurement for success or happiness … I’m guessing you’ll be doing that ‘camel through the eye of the needle’ thing at the end of your life.

    Robert Allen has a great quote, “If a man with many riches suddenly loses all of his money and then jumps out of a window, then, that man was never truly wealthy.”

    In an old ODE magazine (which has now been renamed the OPTIMIST), there was an entire issue around this idea of ‘money’. One of the best lines was a simple statement: “It’s not about MONEY. It’s what you DO with your money.”

    Special Note: I’m an entrepreneur. I’m all about financial freedom. I want to be able to take care of my family, travel, live on the farm and much more. I just don’t believe that money is the scorecard or measurement of wealth or success.

    The Thanksgiving and holiday season is a great opportunity to think of WEALTH as an ABUNDANCE OF THINGS THAT YOU VALUE… and enjoy your ‘WEALTH’.


    I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately on this whole idea of ‘Gratitude’. Mindfulness. Meaning. Purpose. And more. It is particularly powerful in the mind-body relation, especially keeping some kind of gratitude journal.

    Take a little bit of time each day to remind yourself of the good things and the things for which you are most grateful.

    “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
    – Winston Churchill

    I’ve had the privilege of watching thousands of people experience serious ‘giving‘. I’ve also watched many of these people literally move from success to significance. While I don’t exactly understand how it works, I know that giving brings much more happiness than receiving.

    There’s a great line from a country song:

    “It’s not what you take with you … when you leave the world behind.”

    “It’s what you leave behind you … when you leave this world behind you.”

    I believe all of three of these thoughts help us make a life, not a living. There’s no better time of the year than now to share with others.

From all of us at For Impact and The Suddes Group, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving and great holiday season.

Special Note: Every year I share these 3 stories that you may want to share with your children/grandchildren or family. THE HAPPY PRINCE is a great story/fable. THE SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD are seen through the eyes of a child. The third is a very powerful parable about giving called the SEA OF GALILEE.


Human BE-ings, not Human DO-ings

Life and work are hectic. Here is a simple reminder to LIVE and BE.

We are human BE-ings, not human DO-ings.

Seems like we’re always encouraging you to Take Action, Just Ask, Just Visit, Just DO Something…

But, it’s also important to just BE:

BE present during your present–ations.

BE in the moment, with family, friends, associates.

BE yourself, authentic in every way.

BE an entrepreneur, at least in spirit.


Discovery is Never THE Goal for a Visit

Discovery is never THE goal for a visit.

When I hear, “It’s just a discovery visit” or, “We’re only meeting to do discovery,” I cringe. To me this is like saying, “We’re just getting together to be authentic.”

Discovery is part of our presentation framework. It’s something we do (ALWAYS).
It’s not THE goal.


To be clear, often we visit and do discovery – with no ask. But that’s not the goal. The goal is to maximize the relationship at this given moment! The goal is to engage around our impact with such passion, energy and enthusiasm that the person says, “Wow!!! GREAT!!! HOW CAN I HELP?!?!”

You would never reply, “It’s great that you want to help! Thank you! But today I am only here to do discovery. Yes, there are lives we could be saving, changing or impacting with your immediate help but, you see… I’m only here to do discovery!”

“It’s just a discovery visit” is incompatible with the For Impact Point of View: we shouldn’t be doing this work (the programs, the fundraising… any of it) if we aren’t having an IMPACT, if we aren’t changing, saving or impacting lives.


Keynote Slides: Be For Impact

Last week we were with the New Jersey AFP at its annual Conference on Philanthropy. The conference theme was STORY – something we at The Suddes Group are pretty passionate about!

My basic message:

  • STORY is a point of view. It’s how we choose to interpret (or assign meaning to) facts. Most people talk about STORIES, not STORY. Stories are the narrative that follows the POINT OF VIEW.
  • IMPLICATION of IMPACT DRIVES INCOME: If we get this it challenges almost everything happening in traditional fundraising.

Here are the keynote slides.

My thanks and kudos to the NJ AFP leadership. We speak at conferences all over the world and this was one of the best programmed and organized gatherings I can remember.



I was reading an article about #1 Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney – He’s a good, young coach full of pithy aphorisms.

I never thought I would be quoting a Clemson coach (!) but want to credit him with B.Y.O.E.



Think about this! If you don’t bring it, no one else will.

B.Y.O.E. at your board meetings.

B.Y.O.E. at all your visits and presentations.

B.Y.O.E. with your team/staff.

Again, if you don’t bring it, who will?


No More Peer-to-Peer Solicitation

Here’s a simple question: Would Apple or Microsoft or Starbucks (or any other company) ask ‘VOLUNTEERS’ to do their ‘SALES’?

Just the idea of the word ‘SOLICITATION’ (the implication of which I cannot go into in a PG-13 document), should be enough to make you give up on this 1950’s “Peer-To-Peer Solicitation” model!


Note: In the Old Model, a typical ‘ask’ by a peer (to a peer) goes “I have your (3 x 5) card. Can you give something? Just send it in.” WOW! Clear. Concise. Compelling. (NOT!)

Here are 7 pretty solid reasons not to use VOLUNTEERS to make SOLO SOLICITATIONS:

  • DESIRE, ENTHUSIASM, PERSISTENCE. How many of your volunteers really, really, really like to ask a friend for money? If presented as such, these volunteers lack key ingredients for sales success: ENTHUSIASM and PERSISTENCE. It is professional staff’s mission and responsibility to Present The Opportunity to Qualified Prospects.
  • TRADING DOLLARS. Every volunteer knows that whenever they ask one of their friends/peers for money, they will soon be asked back for that person’s favorite cause. This system of ‘trading dollars’ certainly does not allow for aggressively MAXIMIZING RELATIONSHIPS. Professional staff are objective, fair and committed to helping their prospective investor feel great about their commitment.
  • TIME. Volunteers basically have none. Their other business priorities and family obligations make it very difficult to fulfill volunteer duties. Professional staff, on the other hand, are focused and dedicated to Presenting The Opportunity to as many Qualified Prospects AS POSSIBLE.
  • ACCOUNTABILITY & FOLLOW-UP. With a volunteer, there isn’t any! “I saw so and so at a party, and I think they might do something.” Even if they make a visit or accompany on a visit, they will not think about following up and assuring their commitment. Professional staff do a memo for the record on every visit. They send a great follow-up letter summarizing the visit and the opportunity. They make a phone call on a specific date to determine the level of commitment and finalize the details with the investor.
  • TRAINING. Most volunteers have not been trained in how to make this kind of presentation. Many don’t understand sales, the sales process, presentation flow and framework. Even for our most incredible champions, very few have the time to become properly knowledgeable about the institution/organization and the investment opportunities available. Professional staff should be well trained. They know as much as they need to know about the organization. They are involved in ongoing professional and personal development. They understand that success is a combination of ATTITUDE and SKILL.
  • PREPARATION. Even with the best of volunteers, asking their assistant for directions on the way out the door is their idea of preparing for the call. Professional staff go over the Knowledge Base Worksheet, Relationship Strategy Checklist, the Visit Checklist, and have a goal for every visit.
  • THE VISIT ITSELF. Most volunteers begin with “How’s your family?” or “How’s your golf game?” Then move to “I got your 3×5 card.” “They want money.” “Do what you can.” When faced with a question, a challenge, or an objection, most volunteers retreat immediately. Great development and For Impact professionals know the Framework and Flow of the visit. They know how to ask questions and listen. They respond to investors’ feelings and react with creativity and flexibility. They deal with challenges and most importantly, they ask!
Special, Special Note: This is not a ‘bash the volunteer‘ list. Rather, it’s an attempt to help you re-think and re-invent the role of your VOLUNTEER LEADERS.

Volunteer Leaders, Board Members and Current Investors are all a huge part of the TEAM SELLING process. GREAT VOLUNTEER LEADERS and GREAT BOARD MEMBERS are literally worth their weight in gold. They should be used before, during and after the VISIT but, they should never be used ALONE!

*Interesting: The word ‘voluntary’ is defined as: ‘organ solo played in church before, during or after a service.’


Making Things Happen After the Visit (How to Follow-Up)

In case you haven’t noticed we spend quite bit of time helping our For Impact tribe get out of the office – doing more VISITS and making more ASKS.

So what happens AFTER the visit?

When implementing a SALES process and SALES approach to funding, there are three equal parts to every visit/ask: Predispose, Present, Follow up.

These 7 points about Follow Up have a wide application – And can help you immensely in making things happen AFTER the visit:

  • The 24-Hour Rule

    We need to get out our follow-up emails/letters within 24 hours – no matter what. If we wait to write the perfect proposal or pitch, with time, it (1) takes more effort and (2) we lose momentum. I’ll take 80% perfect at 24 hours over 90% perfect in three weeks.
    Speed doesn’t kill… time does.

    The goal is to maximize the RELATIONSHIP at this given moment. Funding is a function of the relationship – not the world’s best proposal. Think more about communication and follow-up in terms of a relationship and not a transaction – this will help with #1.

  • Re: Referrals – think about ONE ACTION item and a manageable timeline.
    It’s great that prospects are saying they’re going to open doors. Focus on ONE action and make it happen. “We’re all about momentum and everyone is busy. To keep the ball rolling, can we talk about making one phone call in the next two weeks?”

    One action will lead to more. Undefined action leads to no action.

  • “Can you get me a proposal?”
    If someone asks this we need to simplify on the spot – “Sure thing… are you an email person?” (Everyone is.) “Would it be okay if I summarized our conversation in bullet point form and shot that back by email?”

    Save yourself HOURS by converting ‘proposals’ to ‘bullet points.’

  • The ball is always in your court.
    We’re getting a lot of great ‘pending requests.’ If someone says, “give me a few days and I’ll get back to you.” We need to say, “That’s great. If I don’t hear from you by Friday, I’ll follow-up on Monday.”

  • Email is for follow-up notes. Use the phone to make things happen.

  • Be a closer. Always.

    It’s an attitude. Your ability to close translates to lives saved, impacted and transformed. This isn’t about some ‘business jargon’… it’s about real stuff… important stuff. We either believe it or we don’t. And, if we do, then we need to close. If we don’t – let’s quit now.


Thank You For Your Service


Today is the day to remember the sacrifice and contribution of all who served in the military.

Every day should be used to thank veterans for keeping our country free and safe.

If you have a chance, thank a military person today. Better yet, see if you can hire a recent veteran.

One-third of all ‘homeless’ are military vets. If you can help them through your local shelter, do so. If you don’t know where to help, I’d recommend supporting Chris Megison at Solutions for Change, a For Impact org leading the way in solving this problem.

While it’s a nice gesture to say to our current military, “Thank you for your service” … what really needs to be done is to help them with the TRANSITION from military to a career and family and a new life.

If you are in a position to do so … most are extremely talented, committed leaders … help them to begin their post-military life.

Many of these returning vets would make great TALENT in the For Impact world … as executives, teachers, program leaders, sales and development staff and much more.

Note: My dad was a Marine in World War II, serving in the Pacific and engaged in many of the ‘Battle Islands’. My brother Mike is a Marine (no ex-Marines), and flew helicopters during his time in service.

I spent my tour (after Notre Dame) as an Infantry Officer at Fort Benning, Georgia. (Missed Vietnam by one class of Infantry Officer Basic Course Graduates. Luck of the draw.) I went through Airborne and Pathfinder, jumped out of planes and helicopters, and was one of the few ROTC Graduates to become a Tactical Officer at O.C.S. (Officer Candidate School). From a leadership/lessons learned perspective, hard to match what Army Infantry provided. Still with me 45 years later.